Jury Awards $1 Billion to Apple in Samsung Patent Case
By Nick Wingfield, New York Times
A jury awarded Apple more than $1 billion in damages on Friday after finding that Samsung infringed a series of its patents on smartphones and tablet computers.
After just three days of
deliberations, far fewer than were expected in such a complex case, a nine-person
jury sided with Apple on most of its allegations against Samsung. These
included allegations that various Samsung products violated Apple patents
covering the “bounce back” effect when a user scrolls to the end of a list, and
the pinch-to-zoom gesture that users make when they want to magnify an image on
their screens. Samsung was also found to have infringed Apple patents covering
the physical design of the iPhone.
The jury added some sting to the verdict by finding in favor of Apple across the board in a countersuit by Samsung. The jury awarded Samsung, which had asked for more than $422 million from Apple for allegedly violating its patents, no damages.
While Apple received far less than
the $2.5 billion it had asked for in the trial, lawyers said there was little
question which side won. “This is a huge victory for Apple,” said Mark Lemley,
a law professor at Stanford University.
Despite the eye-popping award, the more important long-term effect of the jury’s decision could be the impact it has on Android, the Google operating system used by Samsung and a broad array of other companies in their devices. For every iPhone sold worldwide, more than three smartphones running Android are sold, reflecting the meteoric rise of Google’s software and a potential threat to Apple.
Apple’s suit against Samsung, the largest maker of smartphones in the world, has partly been viewed as a proxy war against Google, which Apple executives have derided as a copycat, swiping Apple’s innovations. Steven P. Jobs, the late chief executive of Apple, told his biographer that Android was a “stolen product.”
The judge in the Samsung case could
issue an injunction preventing Samsung from shipping products that infringe on
Apple’s patents. The verdict could also bolster Apple’s legal attacks on
Android products from other companies and deter them from incorporating
iPhone-like features in their products.
"It’s going to make it very difficult for not only Samsung but for other companies to mimic the Apple products," said Robert Barr, executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at the University of California Berkeley.
Jurors were required to fill out a 20-page verdict form with answers to over 700 questions relating to the particulars of the case.
The stakes in the case are enormous, in large part because Apple has become the most valuable public company ever through the blockbuster success of its mobile products.
The evidence Apple presented during
the trial, including internal Samsung memos and strategy documents, left little
doubt that the iPhone inspired a major effort by the Korean manufacturer to
overhaul its mobile phone efforts.
But a key question throughout the trial was whether the jury would decide that Samsung had stepped over the line by improperly copying Apple’s technologies.
The verdict in the trial hardly concludes the legal battles over patents among companies in the mobile business. There a dozens of legal cases between Apple and Samsung winding their way through courts in other countries.